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The 2017 Seminar for Arabian Studies

Friday 4th August – Sunday 6th August 2017
The British Museum, London

The Seminar is the only annual international forum for the presentation of the latest academic research on the Arabian Peninsula. The subjects covered include archaeology, history, epigraphy, languages, literature, art, culture, ethnography, geography, etc. from the earliest times to the present day or, in the case of political and social history, to the end of the Ottoman Empire (1922). The MBI Al Jaber Foundation has been the main sponsor of the Seminar since 2002.

To celebrate the completion of Phase 2 of the Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia in March 2017, the forthcoming Seminar for Arabian Studies will include a Special Session on “Languages, scripts and their uses in ancient North Arabia“. Ancient Arabia had its own branch of the alphabet and almost certainly a greater proportion of its population could read and write than in any other part of the ancient world. This Special Session will explore the many different uses the inhabitants of ancient Arabia made of their literacy, the development of the various scripts which they employed, and what we can reconstruct of the languages they spoke.

The Proceedings of the three-day conference held at the British Museum are always published in time for the conference the following year.

You can download a form to register to attend this year’s Seminar here.

For further information on the Seminar for Arabian Studies please go to:

This year’s MBI Lecture at the British Museum will take place on Saturday 5th August
Professor Trevor Marchand will speak on ‘Yemen’s Architectural Heritage In Peril’

The lecture highlights the current threat to the cultural heritage of Yemen, which possesses one of the world’s finest treasure-troves of architecture, displaying a wondrous array of vernacular styles. Three of its ancient cities – Shibam, San‘ā’ and Zabīd – are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a number of other towns and building complexes around the country await inclusion on that list. Each urban setting possesses a distinct ‘sense of place’, resulting from a mixture of native ingenuity, available construction materials, social relations, religious practices and local histories. Conflict and resistance, too, have contributed significantly to the history of Yemeni building design, town planning and civil engineering. The current hydra-headed conflict, however, involving international adversaries divided along political and sectarian lines, poses a threat of unprecedented scale to the country’s architectural heritage.

The lecture will take stock of the damage incurred as well as some of the current efforts to safeguard buildings and to sustain conservation programmes. It will also address factors – in addition to military conflict – that represent perhaps moreenduring challenges to the survival of Yemen’s architecture and traditional building practices.

Professor Marchand’s lecture is in parallel with his forthcoming Photographic Exhibition ‘Buildings That Fill My Eye: The Architectural Heritage Of Yemen’ at the Brunei Gallery, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, from July 13th – September 23rd 2017.

Tickets are FREE but places are limited and must be booked in advance at:

Please note that the views expressed throughout this event should not be interpreted as views held by the MBI Al Jaber Foundation.



Charity Reg. No. 1093439

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